13 January

 

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After Theresa May’s astonishing claim that GPs are responsible for the meltdown crises in A&E hospital departments, it may come as a great surprise to many of our hard working GPs that according to the PM, NHS funding is at ‘record levels’.

If that is really the case (?) then clearly none of these funds are reaching the very areas that can make a substantial difference to the problem – more GPs in the NHS and greatly improved social care.

Doctors and healthcare professionals have accused the PM of being in denial over the scale of the crisis, given that winter always sees a vastly increased demand on services, especially from an ever growing and ageing population. With some patients lying on trolleys in hospital corridors, it’s not even a case of bed blocking as the beds aren’t even available. In fact, two patients tragically died on trolleys in same A&E department in one week due to NHS pressure

When the British Red Cross states that we are facing a ‘humanitarian crisis’ in our overstretched healthcare system, you know the problems have reaching breaking point.

Dr Mark Porter, Chair of the BMA Council said that the intervention of the Red Cross comes at a time when hospital beds have hit a record low, demand on the system is at a record high and general practice is struggling to cope with rising patient numbers.

If the PM is demanding 24/7 access to GPs then she will have to invest the funds to pay for it. No health secretary can wave a magic wand and find 7500 GPs overnight but while so very little is being done in crisis prevention at the primary care level, the situation in secondary care can only get worse.

A radical shake up in GP recruitment is required, so that more qualified junior doctors are attracted to General Practice. There are many ways that the numbers of GPs can be increased, whether from EU countries, getting qualified GPs back into work if they have been unable to practice owing to illness and also the re design of the workforce in GP surgeries, whereby not every patient has to see a GP, saving their appointments for those who need it most.

If primary care and social care had more funding it would prove one of the most important ways of solving the acute problems facing A&E departments and the NHS in general.

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